The LSE Course: Understanding the causes of things

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jonathan Leape KSW 4.06

The LSE100 lectures are given by lecturers from a range of departments.


Compulsory course on all undergraduate programmes: students complete term one in Lent Term of their first year and term two in Michaelmas Term of their second year. The course is not available to General Course students or to second-year direct-entry students.

Course content

The course introduces students to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist. Running through all of the social sciences are questions of evidence, explanation and theory. LSE100 uses current issues of public concern and intellectual debate to explore these questions from the perspective of different disciplines. No important issue can be fully understood through a single lens. The goal of the course is to enable students to complement the intellectual grounding in their discipline with a broad understanding of different ways of thinking. In six three-week modules the course will examine 'big' questions, such as: How should we manage climate change? Do nations matter? Why are great events so difficult to predict? Who should own ideas? Who caused the financial crisis? Through questions like these (this list is only illustrative), students will explore different types of evidence, different forms of explanation and different strategies for abstraction and modelling that are used across the social sciences. The intention is not only to broaden students' intellectual experience, but also to deepen their critical understanding of their core disciplines. The course also helps students to develop the skills necessary to act effectively as social scientists in the world. The focus on the core elements of social scientific reasoning will therefore be accompanied by a strong emphasis on critical thinking, research and communication skills.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students complete formative assessment activities in Modules 1 and 2 in term one, and in Module 4 in term two. These in-class activities may include writing assignments and problem sets or data analysis tasks.

Indicative reading

Readings are module-specific. Class reading packs are provided in hard copy and are all available from the LSE100 Moodle site with additional reading and resource recommendations.


Term one: a 400-500 word in-class written assessment activity and a 1,500 word essay. Term two: a 400-500 word in-class written assessment, a group presentation project and a two-hour examination. Students receive an overall mark for the course of Distinction, Merit, Credit or Fail.

Key facts

Department: LSE

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Non-assessed

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills